I have been teaching one period of science at a lower income school for the past week. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster - one day the kids will really struggle then the next they will be great. Well, yesterday was awful! I saw some kids totally checked out of the lesson - a lesson I had worked hours on!
We were doing a review of the digestive system so they would be ready for a grade-wide assessment and a few kids weren't even taking notes on their worksheets!
Well, I realized that it wasn't their fault they weren't engaged, it was my fault for not finding a way to reach them. I went home and looked for advice on inspiring low income students in science. I found a great article that said that low income families speak a different language than middle income families. As a result these kids don't know how to ask for help from a teacher (or the teacher can't understand when they are asking for help).
I realized that my biggest distractors were probably not understanding what was going on, but didn't want to look stupid to the other kids. My problem was how to work with these kids without bringing attention to the fact that I was singling them out.
I came up with the idea to assign the kids into "random" groups. I put all the kids I wanted to work with in the group near the front so I could linger there without looking like I was focusing on one group.
It worked so great! The first time I had put the kids in groups it had been a disaster because I couldn't be with every group the whole time and they quickly lost focus if I walked away. Well, this time it was amazing! They were working together so complete their assignment! Even the group I had planned on babysitting was doing great without me!
I was so happy I was practically dancing! We are going to try it again tomorrow for an experiment - I hope it still works!